Crystal River NWR has several activities available to visitors such as wildlife viewing, interpretation, guided tours, environmental education, boating/paddling, fishing and photography.
Know Before You Go
Crystal River NWR is mostly accessible to visitors by water only. Only the Three Sisters Springs property provides land access via shuttle service, but no access to the water is provided at this site. The refuge doesn’t offer any water-access facilities. However, there are a few, free City boat ramps and private ramps (with a fee) that provide access to refuge waters. If you are interested in visiting other parts of the refuge (other than Three Sisters Springs boardwalk), you can use your own vessel, rent a vessel, or join a guided tour. The Refuge does not provide Guided Manatee tours, however, special use permits are granted to tour operators in Kings Bay who offer quality guided tours in Refuge waters. Click here for a current list of Refuge Special Use Permit holders who offer several different types of rentals and guided tours. However you choose to meet a manatee, remember to keep calm and enjoy the moment! It’s a privilege and responsibility to make sure we treat this beloved threatened species with the utmost care and respect.
The manatee season at Crystal River NWR begins in mid-November and ends in late March. This is when the manatee sanctuaries go into effect. During the winter months, manatees come to the springs of Crystal River NWR to conserve the energy necessary to survive the cold Gulf waters. Remember when you are visiting Crystal River, you are visiting the manatees home. The Manatee Manners videos are designed to provide visitors with the necessary awareness that prevents disturbing manatees while engaging in different recreational activities. Please view "Manatee Manners" before initiating any recreation activity in Kings Bay.